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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Protecting both children and the Constitution

Thursday, January 17, 2013

It is hard to imagine anything more horrific than the December shooting that took place in Newtown, Connecticut.

By the end of that fateful day, we learned that 20 first-graders and six educators had been shot and killed by a deranged gunman. As a nation, we came together to pray and offer our deepest condolences to those who had lost a loved one. In the days and weeks following Sandy Hook, my office received numerous calls and letters from residents in Tennessee's Fourth Congressional District. It was touching to read and listen to these heartfelt expressions of sympathy.

Many of the individuals who contacted my office were concerned parents who wanted to know what we could do to ensure something like this never happens again. As a parent with three school aged children of my own, I share their concerns. Our children are our greatest treasure and should be treated as such.

But while the overwhelming majority of parents I have spoken with recognize the need to enact sensible measures to protect our children, they are deeply concerned that this administration is using the tragedy at Sandy Hook as way to limit their Second Amendment rights.

It is not surprising that the issue of gun control has grabbed headlines, especially after President Obama tasked Vice President Joe Biden to lead a taskforce with the goal of developing a package of proposals to curb gun violence.

Unfortunately, so far it seems that the administration is more focused on attacking our Second Amendment rights than truly addressing the underlying causes of gun violence. In fact, the president has stated on numerous occasions that he has no problem bypassing Congress through the use of executive orders to achieve his gun control objectives.

Lawful gun owners in my district have good reason for concern. This administration has a long track record of circumventing the Congress. The president bypassed the Senate confirmation process in appointing his "czars," allowed the IRS to re-write portions of ObamaCare, unilaterally changed federal immigration policy and instructed the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act. The list goes on.

If the White House feels it must resort to the use of an executive order, it would signal that the president knows that his policies cannot pass Congress. Therefore, his actions would be in clear defiance of the will of the American people and our democratic process.

If the president seeks to violate our constitution and degrade our Second Amendment rights, I stand ready to look at any and all available legislative and legal options to protect and maintain our separation of powers. I sincerely hope that the president will abandon this autocratic approach though and instead engage in a meaningful conversation.

I am a proud supporter of our Second Amendment and believe strongly in our right to bear arms. But I am also a parent and want to ensure that our children are kept safe. I, along with the vast majority of my constituents, do not believe these views to be mutually exclusive of one another.

I am reminded of a statement made by former Congressman Bob Barr of Georgia that, "It's not a gun control problem; it's a cultural control problem." There are in fact real issues that Congress should address to ensure our children are protected, but infringing on our Second Amendment rights will not prevent troubled people from committing terrible acts.

We can and must do a better job of ensuring those with mental health issues are identified and receive the support and counseling they need. That starts with making our mental health system more efficient and responsive. We can decide as a nation that we no longer want to promote a culture of violence and work with the key stakeholders to ensure our children are not being bombarded with violent imagery. Finally, we can do a better job of simply enforcing the laws that are already in existence.

President Obama stated that Sandy Hook was the worst day of his presidency. I believe him. But that is not an excuse for the president to use executive orders to push through controversial gun control measures that run counter to the wishes of the majority of the American people.

--U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a physician from South Pittsburg, is a Republican representing the 4th Congressional District, into which Bedford County has just been moved.

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I am pleased that President Obama has used his executive powers to begin research one of the concerns of the NRA--the link between video games and crimes such as those at Newtown. Similarly, his support of providing schools with funds to hire resource officers (who, at the school's choosing) may or may not be armed. His limits on the capacity of magazines is necessary and long overdue. Just as regulations on driver's licenses, car sales, and car manufacturing have increased the safety of our roads, I feel confident that our nation can find a way to improve the safety of all individuals and respect the rights of all gun owners.

-- Posted by sallybkilgore on Thu, Jan 17, 2013, at 2:53 PM

"Like the majority of Americans, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. This country has a strong tradition of gun ownership that's been handed down from generation to generation. And the fact is the vast majority of gun owners in America are responsible -- they buy their guns legally and they use them safely, whether for hunting or sport shooting, collection or protection." So stated our President on January 16. I agree with President Obama and I believe that gun owners, like most Americans, treasure their children and grandchildren and want them to be safe from gun violence. This is part of a national conversation in which all of us can and should participate. Join the conversation at https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions

-- Posted by jlmjsherrell on Thu, Jan 17, 2013, at 4:00 PM

The 2nd amendment uses the term "well regulated" so If Mr. Obama had not taken the actions that the Congress continues to fail to do, we would be in breach of responsibility to the Constitution. How unfortunate that anyone would have to explain this to a legislator. Therefore, DesJarlias comments "...violate our constitution and degrade our Second Amendment ..." are erroneous and inflamitory and only serve to incite a riotous environment. DesJarlias should be ashamed.

-- Posted by davidrcolin on Thu, Jan 17, 2013, at 4:21 PM

It is time...And I personally think that balking the Authority of the President of the United States is not only extremely disrespectful but not necessary...the controversy that has followed Mr. DesJarlais is enough alone to take anything he has said with a grain of salt...America is standing up for not necessarily gun rights but, the right for us as american's to live without fear of people falling victim to a slaughter of those we love...the right thing, in the right way, should and will be done...It is time!

-- Posted by chefgrape on Tue, Jan 22, 2013, at 1:26 PM

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